More Chanel-chicanery: Shirley MacLaine Goes CoCo


Lifetime offers up a Chanel MOW which got bad reviews a month or two ago. All you need to know is what Lifetime's website tells you:

"Coco Chanel" is the rags-to-riches tale charting the rise of one of the most influential fashion icons of the 20th century. From her humble childhood in a French orphanage, through her early days as a young dressmaker's assistant, to her passionate and tragic love with a dashing Englishman, and ultimately to her success as a pioneering icon, "Coco Chanel" is the story of a glamorous woman who was hard to love and harder to ignore.

Somehow, I think I can ignore this with little or no effort.

Shirley MacLaine's a natural choice as she'd played a French streetwalker in Irma la Douce and thus, could manage the lingo. According to the NY Post, her accent slips like a supermodel on the catwalk.

MacLaine, ever the sensitive one, launched her own jewelry line, after being inspired by Chanel's jewels. Although I doubt that Mlle. ever said this:

The jewellery goes on the tops of the fingers, and these are all reflections of the chakras and our inner power.

Coco Chanel Chic Chick-Flick Filming In Sept.

According to Variety, the Coco Chanel bio-pic starts filming in Paris in September. Cute and cuddly Audrey Tautou ( last seen as a child of Jesus) will play the cute and notoriously not cuddly designer.

Director Anne Fontaine, is also adapting the script (with Camille Fontaine), from L'Irrégulière: Ou, Mon Itinéraire Chanel by Edmonde Charles-Roux, who's written umpteen different versions of the same life. Christopher Hampton (Atonement) is advising, on those sexy beach love scenes, no doubt.

Chanel Solitaire, a 1981 film starring Marie-France Pisier, wasn't a huge hit, and explored her early love life, before she became a legend. 

Taking no risks, this version won't go into her later life, either, perhaps for fear of those less attractive moments, such as in 1943, when she denouced her former Jewish business partners, the Wertheimers, to the Nazis, perhaps on the advice of her German lover, Hans Gunther von Dincklage. Later, arrested by the Resistance, she was released nearly immediately, and fled to Switzerland.  Since no one in France actually collaborated with the Nazis, this sort of sequence would be so difficult to film. She must have had vast amounts of charm--after the war, the Wertheimers re-negotiated their deal with her.

St_chanel1 Chanel was her own best creation. She was a tough business woman, who thought about herself first and last.Make no mistake--she was a genius at design, marketing, and the making of an enduring image. She had no illusions about work, life, love or herself. Such a complex personality deserves better than a chick-flick.

(photo by Horst in 1935)

Hint: It's Not Bulgari

No overhead wires.


I wrote about wireless glamour here.

UPDATE: In case you're wondering, it costs at least $1 million a mile to bury power lines in Southern California. Thousand Oaks spent $5 million to bury 1.4 miles worth. I imagine it would cost more on the westside, where everything is pricier.

What's Outside Your Window?

Each ad offers multi-layered glamour. Glimpsing only their partial profiles, we project ourselves into the role of the young condo dwellers. They invite us to imagine sharing their new life, being them or being with them. And they in turn contemplate the scene beyond their windows and feel its transformative glamour—the promise of a skyline's mysteriously glistening windows or a river's passage toward unknown destinations. Although the two ads are almost identical in composition, they are in fact selling two different ideals. The Metropolitan promises "the future of the city," a bustling alternative to the suburban life typical of Dallas. Rector Square, by contrast, offers tranquility, an escape from the noise, garbage cans, and graffiti of other Manhattan neighborhoods. "What’s outside your window?" the ad asks, and the project's website depicts the unappealing alternatives. As aesthetically formulaic as these two ads appear, they work by evoking the different yearnings of different audiences. Glamour's real power comes not from the formal composition but from the responsive audience’s imagination.

[As always, click the photos to see larger versions. Thanks to Laura Thomas at SHVO for obtaining a copy of the Rector Square ad and to its creators at Agency Saks for permission to reproduce it, here and in the book. And thanks to my friends at D Magazine for finding a Metropolitan ad in their files and to Keith Walker at DTZ Rockwood for reprint permission.]

Wednesday Shades: Glamour From Gucci

The fastest way to look glamorous is to put on sunglasses. (Witness today's DG banner.) They make you look mysterious, prevent unattractive squinting, and cover dark circles better than the world's best concealer. They come in all shapes, colors, and personalities. No wonder they're the hot new accessory. Pick your persona.

Cool and elegant in a LBD:

Gucci Sunglasses - 1546/S:GG 1546/S-0BNY

Tan and timeless in a Diane von Furstenburg jungle-print wrap dress:

Gucci Sunglasses - 2931/S:GG 2931/S-0EGQ

Rockin' that Juicy Couture (or T-shirted at Race for the Cure):

Gucci Sunglasses - 2563/S:2563/S-0PR3

Quotable: Richard Rodriguez On L.A. Glamour

"There was nothing reticent about L.A. Glamour was instant. The city took its generosity from the movies. You're beautiful if L.A. says you’re beautiful, goddammit.

It was the sons of Jewish immigrants, the haberdasher's son and the tobacconist's son, who established the epic scale of the movies. Movies taught one big lesson: individual lives have scope and grandeur.

Of course L.A. is shallow. Lips that are ten feet long and faces that are forty feet high! But such faces magnify our lives, reassure us that single lives matter. The attention L.A. lavishes on a single face is as generous a metaphor as I can find for the love of God."

--Richard Rodriquez, Days of Obligation

The Stars Are Just Like Us


John McCain isn't the only one trying to puncture Barack Obama's glamour. So is...Barack Obama.

"Barack Obama is lauded as everyman at Democratic convention" is the headline on this LAT story. The exotic background, cool exterior, and ethnic distance that helped create a glamorous aura in the early days (at least among white voters) have become potential liabilities in the general election. A glamorous icon enables audiences to project their hopes onto him--but they can also project their fears.

It's always been Michelle Obama's job to bring her husband's image back down to earth. She overdid it when she called him "stinky and snorey" and complained that he left dirty socks on the floor. That ordinary voters don't want--too much information. Last night's performance, however, was designed to create a more dignified image of Obama-as-regular-guy, mostly by association (the Robinsons as average American family). This was "Celebrities are just like us," going about their business shopping and taking their adorable kids to the park, not "Stars without makeup," looking sloppy and unattractive.

Towering over the microphone, Michelle was the picture of polished style. She has a model-like physique, made for elegant clothes, and obviously appreciates the shopping benefits of a salary in the range her husband Obama plans to sock with extra FICA taxes. People often compare her to Jackie Kennedy. But, she implicitly assured us last night, she won't be spending any summers cruising the Mediterranean with her princess sister on a Greek shipping tycoon's yacht. That kind of glamour today's politics won't tolerate.

[Photo via Barack Obama Flickr photostream under Creative Commons license.]